Tips For Encountering 5 Dangerous Animals

If you see a dangerous animal in the wild, these tips might just save your life. No one wants to be in a situation where they have to figure out how to avoid being ground into hamburger by a shark or julienned by a bear, but sometimes we find ourselves there anyway. Nature's full of pretty trees and nice-smelling flowers, but it can be tricky from time to time. Most wild animals are of the harmless, fluffy, and winged varieties, but there are still predators out there. And no matter how few of them might be left, the odds are still there that you could run into one. Make sure you do the right thing. Sorry, Africa and Australia, but this is a very North-American-Centric list of wild animal encounter tips.

  • Mountain Lions

    1. If you spot one and it's far enough away, and not paying attention to you, the risk is minimal. But make sure to stay in a group if one is available. Keep an eye on small children and pets and avoid attracting its attention.

    2. If it is close enough to be looking at you with ears up, pick up any small animals or children into your arms. Scan the area for weapons you could use like sticks or rocks. Do not stare directly into its eyes, and do not turn your back on it.

    3. If it is less than 50 years away and staring intensely, or,even worse, crouched and providing a low profile, put any small animals or children behind you and raise your arms over your head to appear larger. if you have a jacket, spread it up over your head so that your mass appears to increase. DO NOT RUN, but back away slowly. Prepare to defend yourself, if it's crouched like that, attack is imminent.

    4. If it begins to creep or crouch or move towards you, bare your teeth. Stare directly at it. Make gutteral threatening noises. Pick up anything that can be used as a weapon and brace yourself. Focus on staying on your feet, the lion will try to go for your head and neck.

    Not everyone agrees on the best course to follow in this situation.Richard Coss, a psychology professor and expert on the evolution of predator–prey relationships at the University of California, Davis, studied the behavior of 185 people who were attacked by mountain lions. He found that half of the 18 people who ran when they were attacked escaped injury. The study also found, however, that those who ran had a slightly higher chance of being killed in an attack -- 5 of those who fled died as a result of injuries, compared with the 8 who remained motionless.

    28 people - those who moved away slowly when approached by a mountain lion - escaped without injury.

    On the other hand, people who froze were the least likely to escape injury when a mountain lion attacked. Only 26 percent of them escaped. They also had the greatest frequency of severe injuries: 43 percent of those who stood still in the face of a lion were badly injured compared with 17 percent of those who fled, according to the study.
  • Bears

    1. Remain Calm. It seems impossible, but panicking will almost always make things go from harmless to terrible.

    2. Back away slowly. Do not make direct eye contact, which large predators tend to view as territorial and aggressive. Don't move quickly or suddenly, raise your arms above your head and wave them slowly.

    3. Do NOT run. If you have a dog, you know why. Running will trigger any predator's instinctive prey drive. They will chase. Instead, if it does charge at you, stand your ground even if you're peeing your pants. 9 times out of 10, it's bluffing and will veer off within feet of you.

    4. If it does attack, first play dead. Curl up in the fetal position and try and protect your head and neck. You are signaling to the bear that you are not a threat.

    5. If it doesn't stop at this point, and continues to attack. Fight back. Use any weapon you have at hand - a stick, a rock, your canteen.... go for the eyes, try and make your death not worth its while.

    6. And finally, if you are in bear country in the first place -- follow all posted rules and regulations regarding these animals. Never feed them. Never approach one. Try to make a lot of noise when you hike so they are aware of your presence and can avoid you on their own. Never get between a mother and her cubs. Carry bear spray if you can. Take all precautions with your food supply when camping.
  • Sharks

    1. Remain Calm. This is not just because panic and heavy breathing can cause complications with your dive gear (if you are diving), but many shark species can detect a racing heartbeat and interpret this as fear or aggression. Sharks prey on sick and distressed creatures, so take relaxed breaths and focus.

    2. Be vigilant. If you see other sea creatures fleeing for no apparent reason, don't ignore it. And be extra vigilant when diving with seals, which are a favorite prey of large, dangerous shark species.

    3.Watch the shark carefully if you see it approach. A sign of impending aggression is when they hunch their backs, lower their pectoral fins, and swim erratically, often in zig-zag motion or up and down. Larger, more dangerous Sharks are more subtle. Great Whites like to show their dominance, they do this by gaping - opening up their jaws to show their weapons. They also drop their pectoral fins and will come at you from side to side or ideally from behind or below - their favorite attack method. Very rarely do they make moves on prey items from within a direct line of sight. Other sharks such as the Zambezi (Bull Shark) or Tiger Shark can just snap within the blink of an eye. They are very unpredictable so always keep your distance.

    Know the sharks in the area that you are likely to encounter.
  • Snakes

    1. Remain Calm. (Seeing a theme here?) First off, the snake you see is probably harmless. The odds of running into a venomous snake are slim.

    2. Even if it is a dangerous snake, given any chance at all, it will try to escape. Only snakes that get cornered with no escape route will bite, and only if you move towards it. Which... why would you do that?!

    3. Stand still and then slowly, slowly back away.

    4. Once at a distance 3-4 times of the length of the snake, you are out of striking range.

    5. Leave.
  • Bees

    1. Listen. You can often hear a hive long before you ever see it. Foraging bees on their own are never a danger unless you are allergic to their stings - and even then, staying calm and ignoring any forager will produce the result of zero stings. Bees don't give a crap about you and what you're doing. Any stinging they do will be defensive. Stop flailing around like an idiot, if you smack the bee with your freaking ham-hands, it just might come after you. But... a hive of bees is another matter.

    2. Proceed with calm caution if you are near a hive in the wild. Bees will defend their hive aggressively, and often they have running patrols near their home. These are not gentle foraging bees, these guys are the soldiers outside the castle. Don't do anything to make them think you are a threat.

    3. If you encounter a swarm, run. Run fast. Bees cannot fly that fast, but if they catch you they will focus on your nose, mouth and eyes. Take cover somewhere that is NOT a lake or a pool. Despite what movies and cartoons tell us, bees will just wait overhead until you surface for air an attack your face. So unless you happen to dive into one of those ponds with handy hollow reeds to breath through - as in said movies and cartoons - forget the water.

    4. Keep people and animals calm in the vicinity of a swarm. Bees can remain agitated for awhile, and loud noises like barking or lawnmowers or screaming can re-trigger the swarm.

    5. If you get stung more than 10 times, go to the Emergeny room immediately. You may not be allergic, but that much venom might cause effects hours later that you can't predict.